Tom Hanks gives David Letterman selfie stick lesson

20 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

David Letterman steps down as talk show king.

Hanks explained that his wife, Rita Wilson, “announced when they first came out that we would never ever have a selfie stick in the house.” But then he explained that they sell the ubiquitous accessories “all over Florence, which was the birthplace of the Renaissance.” After taking the picture (by positioning the camera high enough that it camouflaged their double chins), the Oscar winner said, “In a couple of weeks when you head down to – I’m just gonna guess what you’re gonna be up to, two words – Space Camp, take one of these bad boys with you.” After 33 years in late night, David Letterman — oh, “retires” seems like a wrong-headed word — let’s just say Letterman leaves the building tomorrow (at 11:35 p.m. on WBZ, Ch. 4). If anything, he seemed drawn more to civilians, whether the proprietor of Hello Deli, the owners of the animals performing Stupid Pet Tricks or his own staff members, like stage manager Biff Henderson.

Bill Murray, Letterman’s first guest on NBC’s “Late Night” in 1982 and his first guest on “Late Show” in 1993, drops by for his 44th and last time tonight, the penultimate show. The pretense was that hosts invited the audience to a nightly party with selected “guests” who would let their hair down, reveal a bit of themselves, tell a story and usually promote a project.

Seizing on the one thing she could talk about that might make her interesting — her recent jail time for violating probation — Letterman, grinning but relentless, posed one question after another about her time in the slammer as she grew increasingly unsettled. Letterman was the first late-night host to go back to work after the 9/11 attacks, and he was frank with his anguish and, in doing so, helped viewers cope with their own grief. When she finally tried to call a halt to his interrogation (“I don’t want to talk about it anymore”) he responded graciously, “This is where you and I are different. Long-time hosts, who convened the party, brought their individual brand to the event: gabby intimacy (Jack Paar), conversational ease and an aw-shucks manner (Johnny Carson), relentless inoffensiveness (Jay Leno). Dave introduced his mother, Dorothy, to the world for the 1994 Winter Olympics, dispatching her to Lillehammer, Norway, where she interviewed first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (proposing her hubby “fix” Dave’s speeding tickets) and declined to sample reindeer meat, among her charming remotes shared with Letterman back in New York.

It wouldn’t be the last time Dorothy would make a “Late Show” appearance, as Dave continued his wise policy of making Mom a member of his talent pool. Carson made his preference clear forever the night of May 13, 1994: Unannounced, he strode onto “Late Show” to personally hand the Top Ten list to Dave while the studio audience went wild. At the close of Joaquin Phoenix’s bizarre performance art appearance in 2009, Letterman quipped, “Joaquin, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight.” As he said to Jane Pauley on “CBS Sunday Morning,” “I can tell you the kind of feelings and emotions that I hope will come of this.

His skill at crisis management was displayed in a 10-minute explanation during which he owned up to his sins while disclosing he had helped in the arrest of the man who tried to blackmail him. When he would introduce Bob Hope, and Chris Elliott would pop his head up from a hole under the seats, conversing as if he were Hope, or when he had the less-than-cogent Larry “Bud” Melman regularly perform announcing chores, or when, in his later CBS incarnation, he visited with the nearby souvenir-shop owners, Mujibur and Sirajul, he was taking dead aim on every puffed-up celebrity who had ever sat in a talk show seat. Letterman told viewers a year ago it was time to step away: “I’ve spent half my life in makeup.” After Wednesday, the makeup comes off, by Dave’s choice.

One of his most memorable routines was the simple act of going to a store named “Just Bulbs” and peppering the salesman with requests for something other than light bulbs. Or going into various dry cleaners, restaurants or even garages that displayed old autographed celebrity photos on the wall and asking about the encounters with those famous people.

You say goodbye to that laser vision of his that saw through the whole enterprise of late night TV while everyone else was, and is, busy deflecting our attention from the absurdity.

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